[April 21, 2017] Growing up in the Deep South of the United States never stunted my intellectual growth because I was surrounded by military veterans who told of their experiences. Once such story was relayed to me by my father, who spoke with retired U.S. Army General “Black Jack” Pershing. Pershing told my father of the story of tracking the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.
This certainly must have been an exciting tale to hear from the man himself who was the American hero of World War I. But Pershing never caught up to Pancho Villa who was sly as a fox and was never caught by U.S. soldiers.
To this day, Pancho Villa remains a hero to many Mexicans and various revolutionary movements throughout the world for his cunning, bravery, and protection of the poor. But Pancho Villa was a flawed man who cared more about himself and his prestige than most are willing to admit. Like many revolutionaries of the 20th Century, he began as a bandit who would conduct hit and run raids for profit.
From the many writings about Pancho Villa, here are the leadership characteristics that helped make him who he was:
- Fiercely dedicated to the people of Mexico and especially to its poor
- Loyal to his men and those who supported him
- Ruthless, cunning, and quick tempered
- Politically astute and aggressive
- Brilliant tactician (his tactics were actually studied by the U.S. Army at the time)
- Physically courageous
Legends have sprung up about Pancho Villa. His reputation as a great military leader of the Mexican Revolution,1 whose exploits were regularly filmed by Hollywood filmmakers is largely accurate.